HDI Seminar: Sustainable Asset-based Community Development in Rural Honduras
International development has long been carried out as a top-down process, implemented from the outside in. These externally-imposed paternalistic practices can cause serious long-term problems in small communities. Sustained interventions of this nature slowly disempower populations and create dependence upon outside resources and guidance. In Honduras, a small NGO is working to reverse this effect. Heart to Honduras (HTH) uses asset-based community development theory to empower local communities to go beyond basic participation to become be the protagonists of their own development story. Over the past seven years, the department of Community Development at HTH has seen remarkable improvements in community quality-of-life and participation. This past year, 44% of project resources came from local actors. In 2017, HTH launched a new pilot program (Communities of Holistic Impact) in three communities that aims to deepen these improvements. As Honduras and the rest of the Northern Triangle of Central America continue to experience significant societal and political turmoil, these programs provide an encouraging and hopeful approach to improvements in the region. Project examples, methodologies, and results for both original and new programs will be discussed.
Kaleb Eldridge is a native of Bidwell, OH. In 2009, he graduated from Cedarville University with a bachelor’s degree in Technical and Professional Communications, with additional formal training as an Emergency Medical Technician and Organic Master Gardener. Following two years of employment as a technical writer and applications specialist at a water-quality instrumentation company (YSI, Inc), Kaleb and his wife Stacey moved to rural Honduras in 2011 to join a small non-profit, Heart to Honduras (HTH). They were brought on in an attempt to slowly swing the way HTH approached development from a relief/provisional model to a development/empowerment model.
On a personal level, Kaleb believes that it is very important for the development practitioner to value and attempt to know, as well as possible, those people whom he or she might seek to serve. For that reason, since 2012, he, his wife, and their two young daughters (Alida and Eliana) have lived in a small concrete home in the small town of Las Lomitas. On a professional level, Kaleb worked with their Honduran and US coworkers to improve their interventions with 20+ local communities. Primarily utilizing participatory, asset-based community development concepts, HTH saw local participation levels rise from ~5% in 2011 to 42% in 2017. In 2018, following two years of planning by Kaleb and his team, HTH launched a new pilot program known as Communities of Holistic Impact.
Kaleb is currently working with HTH at a distance from Pittsburgh, PA where he is a Master’s of International Development degree candidate at the Graduate School of Public and International Affair at the University of Pittsburgh. His studies are focused on NGOs, Civil Society, and Latin American Social and Political Policy. His passion for sustainable international development as well as his professional work is shared fully by his amazing and insightful wife Stacey. It is only together with Stacey, their remarkable colleague of seven years, Fredy Martinez, and the rest of the HTH staff that Kaleb has been able to participate in such remarkable growth with the communities of rural Honduras.